Crafts

Beautifying Bird Nests - A Simple Craft Idea

I'm excited to include some of my most favorite simple craft ideas in an upcoming guide for a book with an awesome nature theme. One project that I particularly like and will include in the guide is Beautifying Bird Nests (Not that birds need much help in creating their masterpieces, mind you.). This craft is most effective when created in the early spring, when birds are busily building their nests. This project is as simple and simple can be. Kids love it. Birds benefit, too.

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The supply list is short and cheap! All you need to gather is a mesh produce bag, scissors, and an assortment of thin ribbon, yarn, and string.

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Cut ribbon, yarn, and string into short strips about 3 or 4 inches long. 

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Loosely insert bits of ribbon, yarn, and string into the produce bag mesh. Once complete, hang mesh bag outdoors near a tree. Wait and watch. Soon birds will snitch some of the strips to use as construction material for their nests! Truly! I've seen this happen.  

Who would've thought enhancing nature could be such fun!

A CCSS/STEM Activity Guide for THE INVENTOR'S SECRET: WHAT THOMAS EDISON TOLD HENRY FORD

 Click on image to purchase book.

Click on image to purchase book.

It is a shame that this great book won't hit the market until September, 2015. I'm just dying to show you the projects, games, and experiments included in the guide.  I must have been channeling my inner Edison, because ideas for activities never stopped coming. This was one of those guides I had to force myself to quit creating projects for! Wait till September and you'll see what I mean.

Not to worry, though. Access the you tube video below to get a sense of the energy, inspiration, and  just plain fun that this great book offers to young readers. 

Title: The Inventor's Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford

Author: Suzanne Slade

Illustrator: Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Synopsis:  Both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford started off as insatiably curious tinkerers. That curiosity led them to become inventors—with very different results. As Edison invented hit after commercial hit, gaining fame and fortune, Henry struggled to make a single invention (an affordable car) work. Witnessing Thomas's glorious career from afar, a frustrated Henry wondered about the secret to his success.

This little-known story is a fresh, kid-friendly way to show how Thomas Edison and Henry Ford grew up to be the most famous inventors in the world—and best friends, too.

An Educator's Guide for T is for Texas

I want to home with the armadillo…

Well, shoot.

If I can’t go back to Texas, I’ll just have me some fun creating an Educator’s Guide about my beloved Lone Star State. Thanks to my good friend author Anne Bustard, that’s exactly what I got to do!

Just take a quick moment and check out the fun projects this guide is filled with, projects that tickle the creative side of the brain as well as the academic.

Why, we’ve got an awesome alphabet matching game and crossword puzzle, each with their very own answer sheets.

What’s not to love about this macaroni-backed armadillo? Isn’t he darling?

And, those fingertip bluebonnets are just about as a cute as a pig’s ear, don’t you think?

Each of the crafts has a writing component that’ll make both the kids and teachers holler, “Hi-dee-ho!”

Y’all, instead of hopping a flight to the heart of Texas, why don’t you simply download the Educator’s Guide right here and have some southern-fried fun.

It helped to take care of my homesick, bluebonnet blues for a little while. For that, amigo, I am mighty grateful!

Beautiful Holiday Bows - A gift for you!

Click on the image to access the link and have some bodacious bow-making fun!

We've been working hard on those Core Standards, haven't we? The kids are out school on holiday break. We should do the same today, right? Let's make some bows. Want to?

The initial Simple Saturday premise was founded in 2009 as a website reference for simple, entertaining and inexpensive crafts and amusements for kids of all ages. This premise seemed like a natural way to jump into the blogging scene. One thing is for certain, it’s been a ton of fun posting about things that I enjoy doing!

In a post launched back in 2010, I explained how to make holiday bows. Friends, do not buy those expensive ones when you can create your own for a fraction of the price! Click on this link and find out how easy it is to do so.

If you have any trouble, just shoot me a comment and I’ll see what I can do help make your holiday bright!

Ghostly Pops - Simple Saturday Throw-back Fun

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Three years ago I crafted a post describing how to make Simple Saturday Ghostly Pops. The time is right to pull those scary suckers out of the archive dungeon and have some Halloween fun with them once again.

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All you need to make these spooky little critters is an everyday sucker, a square of toilet paper, a marker, and a piece of string. Just all you need to do is drape that square of TP over the sucker. Gather it under the candy and tie it off with a small piece of yarn. Then, simply make two marks for your candy phantom's eyes and there you have it, you very own Simple Saturday Ghostly Pop!

For this and other activities perfectly suited to delight little ghoulies and goblins on All Hallows Eve access the guides I made for Kelly Bennett’s Vampire Babyand Stephanie Greene’s Princess Posey and the Monster Stew. Watch out, though. As you can see from John’s terrified reaction above, Ghost Pops and some of the things you’ll see in those guides can be down-right frightening!

A Simple Saturday Guide Hits the Big Time

 Eileen Meyer, author of the most amazing Who's Faster? Animals on the Move creatively displayed the work that I did for her during a recent Author Showcase hosted by the Illinois School Library Association. There she prominently presented the guide that I created for her, as well as my CCSSI annotated school visit booklet on an attractive foam core poster at her table. According to Eileen, she received lots of "oooohs and aaaahs" for the guide and annotations, plus a number of "envious looks" from author passer-bys.

Note at how cute Eileen looks at her table. But don't let that sweet smile fool you. This lady is nothing short of brilliant. Her presentations are not only academically sound, they're lively and kid-friendly. She knows what kids want and understands the academic soundness that teachers need. Believe me, my Simple Saturday friends, I've unearthed every academic gem that her fine work offers and those jewels dazzle like diamonds!

A Simple Saturday Harmonica

One of the things that I love when working with author and dear friend Kelly Bennett is that she gets me. She knows that I am all about fostering a sense of creativity and whimsy through the use of simple, everyday things. And, both Kelly and her terrific new book, One Day I Went Rambling, celebrates the Simple Saturday spirit. It's a great story. Trust me. Zane, Kelly's protagonist, personifies the intention of this website right down to the tips of his untied tennis shoes. Rock on, Zane. Rock on!

So, today for your Simple Saturday, One Day I Went Rambling, homemade band musical pleasure, let's make a harmonica. (I confess, the construction process is going to be shamefully easy. Oh, well. What else is new, right?)

All you need to gather up is a comb and a piece of tissue paper (Or, in my case, tear off 3 squares of toilet paper.). We're sure not breaking the bank with this one, are we? 

Then, to make a Simple Saturday harmonica, fold the tissue/toilet paper over the teeth of the comb. That's it, my friend. Truly. That's it.

To play your Simple Saturday harmonica, gently lay your lips on the paper-covered comb teeth and hum. The vibrating resonations of the paper between the teeth with both tickle your lips and delight your ears. It's a really cool experience. I promise. 

If you are not satisfied with the sound your comb harmonica is making, you're trying too hard. Loosen your lips and hum lightly. There you go. Good job.

Heck, while you're at it,  maybe you can learn how to play the Beatbox Comb Harmonica, a variation of Yuri Lane's rocking theme. Isn't this guy amazing?

You know, I'll bet Zane would find a way to play a beatbox comb harmonica.

And I'll bet you can, too.

A Shoebox Guitar

I have to say that when Kelly Bennett asked me to make a guide for her newest picture book One Day I Went Rambling, I was stoked! This book celebrates the unbridled creativity of a free-thinking child like no other book I've ever read does...which totally speaks to the true Simple Saturday spirit that resides within me.

Without giving too much of the story away, the protagonist sees the world in a marvelous, creative way as demonstrated when, in his eyes, an old women's slips become sails, a weather wooden crate becomes a pirate ship, and a pop top becomes treasured jewels. The kid is cool. There's no getting around it.

In one of the final scenes, the protagonist leads a rag-tag band of neighborhood kids in a parade, of sorts. To illustrate the final scene and the theme of this darling book, when Kelly contracted me, she stated that she wanted me to orchestrate a homemade band. Truly music to my ears!!!! Rock on.

So, in celebration of Kelly's latest picture book success, let's begin with the string section. Let's make a Simple Saturday shoe box guitar! It's so, so simple to do. All you need to make this accoustic wonder is a handful of rubber bands, a shoe box and some scissors - for real!

Simply cut a sound hole (Thanks, Wikipedia) out of lid of the box. Then, lengthwise, stretch the rubber bands over the sound hole. Now close the box and you're in the music business, baby!

 Pretty slick, huh?

Through the course of the guide I created homemade instruments to fill the brass, percussion, string, and the woodwind sections of the orchestra. Plenty of symphonic Simple Saturday fodder for a long time, my dear friends. Plenty.

Simple Saturday Prep: Daisy Chain

This week's post will be short and super sweet. Short because I have a mound of Thanksgiving dishes yet to clean up (and a sliver of pecan pie to nibble upon). And sweet because this post is inspired by a delightful picture book that I'm currently making a guide for....Your Mommy Was Just Like You, written by my dear friend Kelly Bennett. The book is coming out in 2011 and, y'all, it is darling!!!

So, I'm studying the text and the illustrations, right, searching for inspiration to make a craft or two and what do I spy but a charming picture of a precious little brunette busily stitching a flower chain garland to use a decoration for her cardboard box secret hideout! So I say, "Aha! All we need to make a daisy chain are some live flowers and some scissors. Heck, let's do it tomorrow."

Then I took my happy self to Sam's and bought a bouquet of daisy mums to use as a Thanksgiving Day centerpiece. The yellow blooms featured in the china creamer above are the ones I set aside just for YOU!

 I truly hope your Thanksgiving Day celebration was as blessed as mine. See you tomorrow. Gobble, gobble.

Simple Saturday Prep: Lucky Ladybug Bingo

Tomorrow's Simple Saturday activity is designed with the early reader in mind.

It's actually a game I designed as part of a Teacher's Guide for a charming chapter book written by my good friend, Stephanie Greene . The book's title is Princess Posey and the Perfect Present. Even though this darling book won't be released until March, I thought that we'd go ahead and play one of the games found in the guide now.

It's summer. What the hey, right? 

Tomorrow all you have to do is download a .pdf I'll attach to the post. If you'd like to print on cardstock instead of copier paper, that'd be great.

So, get yourself some scissors, your reading specs and we're in lucky ladybug business!

Simple Saturday Prep: Sweet Heart Art

This week's Simple Saturday post has been inspired by an incredible new picture book written by Kelly Bennett, a dear, dear, DEAR friend of mine. I could on and on about Kelly, but for the time being, let's focus on Simple Saturday, shall we?

Actually, I made a pretty darned good teacher activity guide for the this charming book, if I do say so myself. Teachers, parents, anyone who has a pulse, download it, if you are so inclined. Tomorrow I am going to pull one the activities featured in the guide to have some ultra-thoughtful-yet-very-super-simple-Saturday-esk fun. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, the project we'll be making would be serve as the perfect Mother's Day gift Gramma's are guaranteed to love (Hint. Hint.)

Here is the list supplies needed: scissors, two colors of construction paper, glue stick, pencil, ruler, and the cutting pattern featured in the guide. Don't worry. I'll make sure that you'll have your very own .pdf to download for yourself.

Think Mother's Day....